Sometimes, the pressures of life can feel like they’re getting on top of us, eating into our day-to-day activities. We’ve all had evenings where we’re too exhausted to do anything other than order a takeaway. I’ve written before about how the costs can add up if you buy them too frequently, though. So today, let’s run through a cheaper, quicker, and potentially healthier alternative in batch cooking. After all, it’s not only important to make our money work for us, but also to ensure we’re paying the right price to stay healthy!
I don’t know about you, but the first image that springs to mind when I think about this topic is a leaning tower of plastic tubs. I’ll confess I used to add to this chaos by cleaning and keeping takeaway cartons. However, I quickly found out that they didn’t meet my food storage requirements. They were often flimsy, and didn’t keep the food inside fresh…
Depending on the size of your household, you shouldn’t have to spend much on the right quantity of containers that you’ll need for batch cooking. For larger families, you can get 40 airtight boxes ranging from 3.7 litres to 38.7ml capacity for a little over £30. Or maybe 10 lidded tubs might be sufficient. (I especially like the steam-release vents on these!) The likes of Prepbox also offer multi-compartment storage trays, which can be handy for portion control as well as separating different food.
Just ensure that whatever type of container you buy, it’s safe to be put into freezers, microwaves and dishwashers. Likewise, make sure they’re airtight – you don’t want your lasagne to leak!
Of course, inspiration doesn’t always strike quickly when it comes to deciding what to cook for the week ahead. Often, I start with looking in the fridge and seeing what ingredients need using up. But even then, my memory isn’t great at the best of times – let alone trying to recall the exact components needed for previous recipes!
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Luckily, plenty of books are dedicated to the subject. Among them are Batch Cook by Susan Jane White, Suzanne Mulholland’s The Batch Lady, my kinda title The Batch Cook Book: Money-saving Meal Prep For Busy Lives by Sam Gates, and Batch Cooking: Prep and Cook Your Weeknight Dinners in Less Than 2 Hours by Keda Black, as well as one that will resonate with parents all over the country, We’re Hungry! Batch Cooking Your Family Will Love by Ciara Attwell.
I’m not sure there’s anyone who actually enjoys the time-consuming process of plucking herbs off their stalks. I’m looking at you, thyme! In fact, all bar basil and maybe one or two others are fiddly. But they are an important part of adding flavour and aroma to so many meals. So often, though, you only need a few leaves frustratingly.
Last Christmas I bought my partner a Click and Grow Smart Garden, which has been a revelation in our flat. Not only is it handy to pick the herbs whenever we need them, despite not having a garden. But it’s pretty fascinating to watch them grow from seed to plant. Also, we’re racking up the savings since we’re no longer buying pre-cut herbs from the supermarket, half of which inevitably turn brown before we get the chance to use them again!
Currently, we’ve focused on growing basil since you can’t go wrong with a proper tomato and basil pasta sauce (plus it smells so nice!) But there are plenty of different herbs and vegetables to grow, including chives, (red hot) chili peppers, cherry tomatoes, parsley, sage, through to bloody sorrel – please don’t write in to complain, that’s its name…
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